Plan ahead for when things go wrong on road
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, September 29th 2017
Unexpected situations are a fact of life on our roads. Having a plan to address them is important.
Here are a few examples.
• Smashing a vehicle window to get out is not as easy as it seems.
When escape from a vehicle is a top priority, advance planning is an asset.
Drivers should always have some sort of tool to smash their way out of a dangerous confined situation.
Most professional drivers have a bat, which is usually used to check for a loss of pressure in tires before heading out on a long-haul journey.
Most automotive retailers carry a small handheld device that is meant to be used as a combined hammer and seatbelt cutter.
There are times when people are in vehicles that catch fire or are submerged in water.
This small tool can be a lifesaver.
If a vehicle enters a body of water, it is very important to have a plan of escape.
The vehicle will usually float for a short time.
In this case, it is imperative to get the window open and get out.
If the vehicle sinks quickly, it is important to wait for the pressure to equalize before trying to open the door.
Many occupants panic in this situation.
They spend a great deal of energy fighting the opposing pressure and are exhausted when the inner and outer pressure of the vehicle equalize and they finally have a chance to escape.
Professional big rig drivers always have a plan of escape should things go wrong.
The plan may vary, depending on whether they carry a load.
For instance, logging truck drivers on a resource road are much more likely to stay with an unloaded truck but abandon the loaded truck when they fear the logs could crash through the back of their cab.
Windshields are designed with a strong plastic core and will withstand a smashing motion.
It is better to escape a vehicle by hitting a side or rear window.
If there is no way of doing this, it is advisable to kick the windshield out from within, by bracing oneself against the seat back.
• Many drivers do not properly adjust their headrests.
The most common crash is the rear-end collision.
To reduce injury from the hit-from-behind crash, the head restraint should be positioned in such a fashion as to have the top of the ears level with the middle of the restraint.
A head restraint can also be removed and the metal prongs can be used to smash a window.
• Bike lanes are in most areas of the province.
Riders are not required to use these lanes.
They can ride in the vehicle lanes if they choose to do so.
This will often surprise the average driver, especially when bike riders occupy the immediate left lane of a multi-lane one-way street.
Drivers of motor vehicles might not check the left side blind spot before turning left, thinking that bike riders are restricted to the bike lane.
The two-way bike lane is relatively new to most B.C. communities. Drivers not familiar with these new lanes may very well attempt a prohibited right-on-red light turn, surprising cyclists.
• The left turn onto a one-way street from a solid red traffic light is probably the most surprising move witnessed by some commuters.
Drivers must come to a complete stop in this situation, and make sure there is no conflict with pedestrians and other vehicles.
Of all the left-turn opportunities, this is probably the most misunderstood.
It does not matter whether a driver is on a one-way or a two-way street.
It only matters that a driver is turning onto a one-way road.